restricted access The Art of Oscar Wilde by Epifanio San Juan (review)
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1968 BOOK REVIEWS 439 who attacked Assam at the beginning of the 13th century. The Burmese never received help from the Chinese at any period of their history, and they conquered the Mons in the 11th century; in fact the defeat Kublai Khan inflicted on the Burmese in 1287 enabled the Mons in Lower Burma to rise again. To Mr. Brandon's charge (page 96) that I made a wrong assessment of the Javanese shadow play in my Burmese Drama, I plead guilty, but submit this in mitigation: When I wrote it, I was a conceited young man in his early twenties, who thought he knew everything, and in 1933, no special studies of the Javanese drama were yet in existence, at least, not in English nor in French. Mr. Brandon's book is the first detailed, authentic and sympathetic account of the Indonesian dramatic traditions, which go back to the fabulous days of the great Cambodian and Javanese empires. In fact, his knowledge of those dramatic traditions is so deep that one would wish he had concentrated on Indonesia, Thailand, Malaya, and Cambodia, which shared those traditions, leaving out Vietnam, Burma, and the Philippines which were not quite within the sphere of their influence. After the disappointing introductory Part I, Mr. Brandon is on his own ground. In Part II, "Theatre as Art," he gives a delightful account of the music, the dance, the literature, and the staging of Southeast Asian drama. In Part III, "Theatre as an Institution," he describes the role of the theater in Southeast Asian society, especially Indonesian, and in Part IV, he considers the use and effectiveness of the theater as a medium for propaganda, both religious and political. The book contains 73 photographic illustrations, which are not only most delightful but instructive . The book will be of immense value not only to students of the drama, but also to all who are interested in Southeast Asian studies. MAUNG HTIN AUNG Wake Forest University THE ART OF OSCAR WILDE, by Epifanio San Juan, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J., 1967. Price $6.50. The Art of Oscar Wilde, written by Epifanio San Juan, is a welcome addition to one's Wildian collection. This work concentrates on the writings, prose, dramas and poetry of this controversial late Victorian man of letters. Far too many of the books on Wilde deal almost exclusively with his colorful career and much publicized trial that resulted in his imprisonment. This study of Oscar Wilde's literary canon reveals that the art of this genius presents the kind of absurd and inverted paradox for which Wilde the epigrammist was justly admired. San juan's book treats of Wilde's books under the following headings: Early Poems; The Picture Of Dorian Gray; Aesthetics and Literary Criticism; Poetic Drama; Comedies; and The Ballad of Reading Goal. The portion of the work that deals with Salome is especially penetrating and interesting. One must, however , comment on the omission of a section of the book on De Profundis. This is Wilde's only truly serious and sincere prose, written while he was in prison. In it he asserts that suffering is a greater teacher than prosperity, sorrow more noble than joy, humility more godlike than pride. Wilde was born the same year as George Bernard Shaw, who lived fifty years longer than his fellow Irishman. Wilde may have developed into a profound writer had he lived. One indication of this is to be found in De Profundis. This is a thoughtful, scholarly study of the literary achievements of one of the great English men of letters. The author avoids the pitfall of introducing irrelevant biographical material, which belong in biographies of Wilde and not in serious 440 MODERN DRAMA February works that investigate the merits of his prose and verse. The Art of Oscar Wilde concentrates on an examination of the works themselves which is a rare quality in books about this most controversial figure. This book, even though it is scholarly in tone, can be read and understood by nonscholars who know and love the plays and poems of Wilde. It is not of such a technical nature that it should have a...


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